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China welcomes Duterte's decision to skip flag-raising on Pag-asa

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang holds a media briefing. FMPRC/Released

MANILA, Philippines — Beijing seems pleased with the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte not to push through with his visit to Pag-asa Island, the largest among the Philippine-controlled areas in the Spratly Islands.

The president earlier said that he wanted to celebrate Independence Day on the island and raise the Philippine flag there.

RELATED: Duterte orders military to occupy South China Sea areas | Palace: Independence Day at Pag-asa part of Duterte's independent foreign policy

A few days after this announcement, Duterte said that he will no longer push through with the visit, saying that he values the country's friendship with China.

Following Duterte's latest pronouncement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the situation in the disputed South China Sea has seen "continued progress."

"We are glad that the Philippines choose to work with China to properly manage differences and advance cooperation, so as to deliver more benefit to our two peoples," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said in a press briefing Thursday.

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Lu added that a good relationship between the Philippine and China would be conducive to regional peace, stability and prosperity.

"China-Philippines relations also enjoy fast and sound growth," Lu said.

Duterte revealed that China asked him not to celebrate Independence Day and raise the flag on Pag-asa Island, an area under Kalayaan town in Palawan.

"China said: ‘what will happen if every head of state will go there to (assert their) claim? They said if every head of state of contending parties there around the West Philippine Sea, they call it the (South) China Sea, will go there to plant the flag, there will likely be trouble," Duterte told the Filipino community in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The president, however, did not say how Beijing communicated these concerns to him.

RELATED: Analysts doubt Duterte's seriousness in occupying South China Sea

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